NEW YORK, June 15 (UPI) -- Human Rights Watch Friday urged the U.S. government not to send a terror suspect held at Guantanamo Bay back to Libya.
"The United States should not return Guantanamo detainee Abdul Ra'ouf al-Qassim to Libya, where he will face a real risk of torture and other abuse," the human rights organization said in a statement. "The U.S. government's reliance on a no-torture promise from Libya, a country that the U.S. State Department has condemned for its poor record on torture, is insufficient to protect al-Qassim from abuse."
The U.S. government says that al-Qassim, 32, who has been a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay for five years, was involved with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, HRW said. "Now, the United States intends to send al-Qassim back to Libya in reliance on promises of humane treatment by the Libyan government, despite al-Qassim's fears that he will be tortured and possibly even killed if returned there," the group said.
"The United States is ignoring al-Qassim's credible fear of torture by relying on a promise of no-torture from Libya, a country with a documented record of torture," said Jennifer Daskal, senior counter-terrorism counsel for Human Rights Watch. "This is not sufficient protection for anyone, let alone someone accused of being part of a group that wants to overthrow the Libyan leader."
HRW said the State Department's most recent country report on Libya had documented that Libya continued to hold hundreds of prisoners it claimed were involved with banned groups including the LIFG. "The State Department report also describes Libyan security personnel as having 'routinely tortured' persons in custody," HRW said.